Remarks to the UN Women Executive Board
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Madame Acting Executive Director.
My delegation would first like to applaud the fact that after just two years of operation, UN Women has become a global leader for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Experience and a growing body of research demonstrate that when the rights of women and girls around the world advance, so do global peace and prosperity. Investing in women and girls is one of the most powerful forces for international development. Gains in women’s employment, health, and education spur economic growth and social cohesion; integrating women’s perspectives into peace and security efforts strengthens conflict prevention and makes peace agreements more durable; and when women and men are equally empowered as political and social actors, governments are more representative and effective.
UN Women’s leadership role is vital across the UN system. UN Women’s proactive involvement was essential to the successful conclusion of the March 2013 Commission on the Status of Women, where the personal involvement of the Executive Director and her team helped member states reach agreement on Conclusions regarding the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls. At the General Assembly last year, UN Women’s efforts helped pave the way for gender-related language in key resolutions, and at the Rio+20 Conference, UN Women’s advocacy was instrumental in gaining support for an outcome that recognized the importance of gender equality.
The UN does critical work on behalf of women and girls that takes place in the field, and UN Women has made its presence increasingly felt on the ground throughout the world. We are pleased that over the past year UN Women has increased its impact, including through hands-on engagement in over 70 countries. We urge UN Women to continue to expand its work with civil society organizations, including groups advocating for women’s rights, men and boys committed to advancing gender equality, religious and community leaders, and the private sector.
We support UN Women’s focus on five fundamental priorities outlined in the current Strategic Plan: leadership and political participation, economic empowerment, violence against women and girls, peace and security, and national planning and budgeting. With regard to violence against women and girls, we hope UN Women will continue to lead the UN system in working with member states to implement CSW’s Agreed Conclusions. We must work together to stop violence directed at women due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, violence against women and girls in all intimate partner relationships, including outside formal marriage, and the link between violence against women and sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. Harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation/cutting and early or forced marriage must also continue to be addressed.
The United States applauds the new Strategic Plan’s increased focus on gender in the context of humanitarian response, including in post-conflict situations. Humanitarian crises exact a heavy toll on women and girls, and all too often gender is not mainstreamed in humanitarian response. We urge UN Women to continue to work across the UN system to ensure that planning for and responding to humanitarian crises addresses the unique effects on women and girls, and ensures increased female participation in planning and response.
We are pleased that UN Women has finalized its regional architecture and put in place the foundations for a new field structure. We urge UN Women to fill field positions with strong and proven leaders who can ensure that UN Women’s support, expertise and services get to those who need them most. This will require dedicated effort to ensure that other UN agencies meaningfully integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment into programs and policies across all of their work. Given UN Women’s role as the hub of coordination across the UN system and with governments, civil society, and other stakeholders, it will also require field leaders who are committed to and excel at coordination with wider stakeholders.
The United States welcomes UN Women’s commitment to accountability and enhanced transparency and, in this regard, welcomes the implementation of its decision to disclose internal audit reports publicly. We note that UN Women has allocated additional resources to its audit work, and we support this continued strengthening of the agency’s audit and evaluation capacities.
We are concerned that mandatory and non-discretionary costs are rising at a faster rate than contributions. We look forward to discussing how best to ensure that UN Women’s critical programmatic activities continue to receive adequate funding.
We are grateful that UN Women has pledged to share best practices and help build the capacity of the Equal Futures Partnership, a new multilateral initiative that aims to improve gender equality through new national actions to expand women’s economic empowerment and political participation. We look forward to working with UN Women to expand and develop this important initiative.
Finally, we are looking forward to the Secretary General’s announcement of the next Executive Director. This role is pivotal to the UN system’s leadership and advocacy on behalf of women and girls worldwide.
The United States is committed to continuing our strong collaboration with UN Women and the Executive Board to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide. These goals remain among the highest priorities for the United States and we look forward to working together in the months and years to come.
Thank you, Mr. President.